19th UAS Precision, an aerial spraying company from Sandusky, uses fungicides supplied by L. E. Sommers, of Kidron, to safely and effectively destroy fungus on corn at Harmony Farms through the use of a drone.
PHOTOS AND STORY By OREN STEINER
Local cornfields are growing tall along the roads as summer begins to turn to fall. Deep green leaves stand out against bright blue skies and soak in the sun.
At a visit to a cornfield in the Kidron and Dalton area recently, a unique buzzing broke the peaceful silence. The sound was different than the buzz of a large swarm of bumblebees, and the volume wasn’t unpleasant or alarming.
Rather, the sound spurred curiosity and invited more investigation.
The source of the buzzing proved to be equally captivating.
Hovering 10 to 12 feet above the canopy of open cornfields was a drone with six rotor propellers.
Operated with one controller per drone using dual outward facing cameras to send images back to the monitor screen, this DJI T30 aircraft is among the latest technology used as a tool by increasingly busy farmers to help them safely and effectively get their work done.
In this case, an aerial spraying company from Sandusky, 19th UAS Precision, was custom spraying applying fungicides, supplied by L. E. Sommers, from Kidron, on the cornfields of Phil Neuenschwander and sons, Jerrell, and Cordell, owners of Harmony Farms. This chemical is used to destroy fungus lodged in the tassels and silk in the corn stalk. The application is a solution with specific incremental timing in relationship to the maturing of the corn to be most advantageous both to the farmer and the cornstalk itself.
The custom spraying business was formed in 2022, with all the necessary licenses for aerial spray applications. This is a son and father business, Grant T. Puckrin, founder, is assisted by his father Steve, as an additional pilot. They alternate between various tasks it takes to operate safely and effectively. These 24-pound, batteries cost about $2,100 and have a minimum of 1,000 charges. They are constantly being recharged when not installed in the drone by a gas-powered generator on their pickup truck, where inverters do a rapid charge from the cargo trailer while the drone is out spraying.
April through May was a hectic seasonal period while spraying winter wheat with fungicides. Other crops included strawberries, fruit orchards, vineyards, and sweet corn. They are also involved with mapping for field tile in special situations. Factors with this outdoor equipment include maximizing energy being depleted from the batteries while operating safely for themselves, as well as inquirers investigating the buzz and asking why their pickup and cargo trailer are parked alongside of a road. Prior to liftoff, there are both audible sounds and flashing lights to alert and inform bystanders to a soon straight-up into the air of 25 feet or more before moving in any given direction.